Keynote Speakers

Happy Teacher Revolution

Danna Thomas

The Happy Teacher Revolution is an international movement with the mission to support the mental health and wellness of teachers (and all educators). Learn about the background and research behind the Happy Teacher Revolution as a trauma-informed practice and social-emotional learning movement for educators. See how the Happy Teacher Revolution supports teachers’ mental health and wellness and discuss topics relating to the social-emotional learning of educators such as vicarious trauma, caregiver burnout, compassion fatigue and toxic stress.

Danna Thomas is a former Baltimore City Public School teacher and founder of the Happy Teacher Revolution, an international movement that hosts mental health and wellness support groups for teachers. Danna began this journey based on her own experiences with anxiety and depression and seeks to help teachers feel less alone by sharing in one another's vulnerabilities. She believes that in order to solve the teacher burnout and turnover crisis, we must come together as a community and revolutionize how we professionally support educators.

The Academic X-Factor: Relationships, Resilience and Recovery

Dr. Steve Parese


By definition, an “X-Factor” is an uncertain variable which has the most significant impact on the outcome. When it comes to the academic and life success of children from challenging backgrounds, this X-Factor is often strong, meaningful relationships with non-parental adults. But somehow, the youth who most need caring adults in their lives manage to sabotage every attempt to build these connections! Why do they undermine these relationships and what can adults do to win through their defenses?

Dr. Steve Parese, author and international speaker, will share valuable insights into the nature of children and youth who have experienced ‘trauma and drama’ throughout their lives. Drawing from research on trauma-informed care and from Dr. Parese’s own experiences as a special educator and counselor, this interactive session will provide helpful information and practical strategies for building bridges across chasms of mistrust.

Defining Special Needs: From Nonverbal to Professional Speaker

Kerry Magro
CEO & Founder, KFM Making a Difference

At age four, Kerry Magro was considered to have severe autism and was nonverbal. This led to years of therapies as he was entering Pre-K. Fast forward to today, he is an award-winning professional speaker. Kerry will share how he persevered through challenges, promotes disability awareness, inclusion benefits and more from his first-hand perspective.

Kerry Magro is an award-winning disability advocate, best-selling author (Defining Autism From The Heart, Autism and Falling in Love and I Will Light It Up Blue!), movie consultant (Joyful Noise and Jane Wants A Boyfriend) and a non-profit founder of an organization that provides college scholarships for students with autism. Magro travels the country as an international motivational speaker and disability advocate. He also hosts “A Special Community” Facebook page with interviews highlighting people impacted by a diagnosis to break down barriers in our community.

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